Stainless steel cookware is no doubt a great addition to any kitchen, and for obvious reasons. It possesses amazing qualities such as a fair enough resistance to corrosion and rust, durability, and good at conductivity and heat retention. Not to forget its sleek finish that fits and graces just about any kitchen.
While it may be one of the most popular cookware materials, it’s not entirely immune to stain as suggested by the name “stainless.” As you get to use it, especially without proper care, they are bound to become stained, and then you will need to know how to clean stainless steel pan.
Types of Stainless Steel Stains
1. Water Stains or Calcium Deposits
You must have observed those white stains that don’t seem to come out when you scrub. You probably didn’t know that to be calcium. It is only natural to wonder how the calcium got stuck on to your pans. They probably came from the water (containing calcium bicarbonate) it comes in contact with.
This solution of calcium bicarbonate in water is further broken down to calcium carbonate, and then gets stuck to the bottom of the pans. The reason why calcium carbonate stains your pan is that it doesn’t easily dissolve in water and so soap and water is not able to remove the deposits.
It also does not dissolve in oil, and that is why it usually sticks to the pan even when oil is used to cook.
You may be surprised at this, but that’s what it is. Just because a stainless steel material is resistant to corrosion does not make it entirely corrosion-proof.
This implies that it is possible to rust. Like we already established, it is possible for stainless steel to get stained and for this case, it does rust too. But, this is dependent on many factors.
Additionally, the type of food your pan is used also contributes to some extent. For instance, too much of extremely salty or scouring conditions, too much acidic food, can lead to a stainless steel getting rust.
Technically, pitting may not be considered a stain but rather an erosion of the metal’s surface. This type of stain on stainless steel is known to occur when a stainless steel material comes in contact with chlorides, such as salt. Needless to be told that one of the sources of this compound is tap water.
Pitting is created when the resultant remains of undissolved salt in the stainless steel pan (particularly the chloride in the salt), after water boils out attacks the protective layer of the stainless steel material.
Although it does not entirely damage the material, it leaves behind pockmarks on the removal of the oxide component. This is that small discolored dots you find on the bottom that despite your cleaning, they seem not to come off.
4. Burnt Food
This is obviously something everyone can associate with, and probably has experience at one time or the other, and thus needs no further explanation. Personally, I have experienced this countless number of times. I have once had to dispose of one of my favorite pans for this very reason.
While not all food that gets burnt ends up as a stain on the pan, there are some burns that are usually stubborn and refuse to go away even after very serious washing and scrubbing.
As much as this does not affect the performance of the pan or the health of the food, it just might make the pan unappealing to your eyes anymore.
5. Black or Grey Residue
For most people, this might be new or odd. You probably have had a time when after using stainless steel cookware, you wash it. When it’s time to wipe, you do so only to notice a grey or black residue on the tower used in wiping. Even after washing and wiping many times, the stain does not go off.
This residue is largely what is left behind after the usual mechanical polishing process when the cookware is manufactured. This is talking about the fine abrasives that are used to make the final product shiny. This residue may sometime not go off even after being washed – whether by hand or dishwasher.
6. Heat Tint
In simple terms, heat tint is that ugly discoloration on your stainless steel pan, usually in a rainbow-like manner. It is said to show up when a pan is exposed to excessive heat or when it is too quickly heated.
Not to worry; this does not in any way affect the pan’s performance nor the cooked foods. The only thing to worry about is aesthetics.
Remember the protective layer of steel? When the stainless steel cookware is exposed to heat, this layer is further oxidized. As this happens, there is an alteration in the wavelength of light it reflects, hence the rainbow-like colors. The more the temperature increases, the more the oxidation, and the more the change of colors.
Tricks on How to Clean Stainless Steel Pan
Stainless steel cookware such as pans offers a high level of conductivity and effective distribution of heat. This is why they are one of the most-used kitchen tools. When it comes down to making sure that they are kept clean, there are tricks and tips that can be useful in transforming your pan.
When done properly and regularly, it can increase how long your stainless steel pans will last.
Stainless steel cookware cleaning does not have to be a difficult thing, with techniques involving ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, tomato sauce, and hot water. Whether it is burnt food, calcium deposits, pitting, rust, heat tint, or grey residue, they can be made clean and bright again, ready for your next kitchen adventure.
1. Boiling Water
This trick is suitable for removing burnt foods that have coated stainless steel cookware. This is a good alternative to washing, which would take a lot of effort and time and still not be effective. It is no doubt a lot easier when you fill your pan with enough hot water and allow the water to sit for say 45 minutes.
After this time, it is supposed to have cooled to a point where you can go ahead and wash, making use of your soap and scrubbing pad, say nylon or cloth.
2. Baking Soda Paste
You can use baking soda in various ways, one of which is as a paste. This comes in handy for removing burn marks.
This method entails that you ensure the pan is completely dry. Sprinkle the pan (particularly the bottom) evenly with baking soda.
Afterward, rub the pan with the baking soda with the help of a dry cloth. Add a very small amount of water to make a paste out of the soda.
Allow for some time and then rinse off. You can also use the paste to wipe the outer surface of the pan, using a soft cloth.
3. Baking Soda with Hot Water
I never thought my pan could be made to look good as new until I discovered this stainless steel cookware clean option.
For particularly challenging brown stains, you can add a small amount of baking soda into your pan already filled with hot water. Allow this combination to sit in the pan for a couple of hours or minutes, and afterward do your normal washing.
4. Wash with Vinegar
When your pan overheats, you are likely going to find an unsightly discoloration. An effective way to get rid of this stain is with the use of vinegar. To achieve this, all you have to do is simply use the vinegar in washing your cookware and then use water to rinse. After this is done, the discoloration would be nowhere to be found.
5. Vinegar and Hot Water
This is also another effective application of vinegar and is particularly for doing away with buildup stain of white calcium.
This method entails making a mixture of vinegar and water. The recommended ratio of vinegar to water is usually one part to three parts. Put the mixture into the affected pan and boil.
After boiling, allow to sit in the pan until it cools, and then empty and wash as normal.
6. Tomato Sauce
This is another cleaning stainless steel cookware option that you can use to remove discoloration associated with an overheated pan. You should give this method a try if you happen to have an excess of tomato or from leftover from the previous night.
Tomatoes contain some level of acidity that reacts similarly to vinegar on any stainless steel cookware discoloration.
What you do is fill your pan with crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce submerging the affected areas. Allow about 15 minutes for the sauce to gently simmer, and if necessary, you can add water. When satisfied, take off the sauce and rise pan as usual.
7. Salt and Lime
When combined, salt and lime make an effective cleaning solution for your stainless steel pan. It is no news that lime contains a good amount of acidity and this helps in combating tough particles associated with a stain.
Salt on the other has some sort of coarseness and thus helps in scrubbing away loose stuck-on food. Squeeze some lime and get its juice into your pan and add some salt, and allow to stay for some minutes.
Sprinkle some more salt and then scrub using a non-abrasive scrubber. Once satisfied, rinse the pan and allow it to dry.
General Stainless Steel Pan Care Tips
While you cannot do without having stains on your pan, you can at least avoid some forms of stains. This way, the stains can be removed with basic or normal washing. Here are tips you can follow to avoid unnecessary stains on your pan and other cookware.
- You minimize water stains when you always dry your pan immediately after washing
- Avoid adding salt to water; only do so when it’s boiling. This goes a long way to prevent small dents caused by pitting corrosion from settling in the bottom of your pan
- Before adding your foods and meats into your pan, ensure that they are not cold, but rather in room temperature. Cold food easily sticks to the pan
- Avoid using cold water when cleaning a hot pan, as this can result in what is known as disfiguration and warping.
- Avoid using harsh cleaners or scrubbers such as steel wool to prevent scratch on your stainless steel pan
- Avoid cooking on high heat, use medium instead. This way, foods will stick less and washing will be made easier.
- After cooking, do not soak pan immediately, allow it to cool off before doing so.
- Avoid allowing your pans to soak for a very long time, to avoid pitting.
- Avoid storing food in your stainless steel, especially those that are acidic foods like tomato-based.
Final Words On Cleaning A Stainless Steel Pot
We have now seen that stainless does not necessarily mean stain-free. But, there is hardly a stain that is impossible to get rid of. At the same time, it does not have to be difficult if you apply the right cleaning technique.
The above methods on how to clean stainless steel pan can help keep even the most used pan looking great for a very long time. They are a handy solution, whether you want to remove easy or tough stains, discolorations, burnt foods, and so on.
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